Friday, 3 December 2010

Guest: Romance Writer Emma Shortt

Please welcome romance writer Emma Shortt.

Emma works as an editor for Evernight Publishing. As well as having a short story 'The Christmas Fae' in their Christmas anthology 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas, she has a series of romantic novels coming out throughout 2010. This series is called FairyTales (the erotic kind) and takes up where The Christmas Fae finishes.

Tis Christmas and everyone is stirring…

From the keeper of Santa’s naughty list, delightful little Elves eager to please, and the sensual love of a toy soldier—the holidays are filled with orgasmic cheer. Where wishes come true, Frosty is itching for a melt-down, fairies and angels are randy to grant your every wish, and ‘tis the season to be oh, so jolly-filled.

Unwrap your darkest desires…for this is Christmas, and it will never be the same

Emma has kindly agreed to answer a few questions

1. When did you first start to write and why?

I actually wrote my first book when I was fifteen. It was called Crimson Wars (I was in my Anne Rice inspired goth phase) and was this human-vampire war type epic. It was done by hand (we were poor so a computer was about as attainable as the moon) and I reckon it must have been about thirty thousand words - a huge number to a fifteen year old. I’ve still got the scribes bump that the book produced, it’s never gone away. I wish I still had a copy, I bet it was dire.

Anyway I turned into a bit of a science geek from then on and the writing took a back seat but it was always on my mind. Then about five years ago I started to really think about doing it, as a job, not just a hobby. I was working a really stressful corporate job at the time, travelling all over the country and felt myself coming close to burn out – I’d gone straight from uni into a high pressure job, was only twenty five and knew already that it wasn't the life for me. So I quit my job, got a far less fraught one and started writing. When I didn't get published right away I took a better job, and then another and now I'm back in the 'stress zone' only writing as well!

I just love books, I love reading, I love writing. If I don't write something just feels 'off', it's a compulsion for me and I can't deny it. My perfect life involves me sat in front of my computer writing all day... oh, the bliss.

2. When did you realise that romance was your genre?

Other's realised it before I did. I started out writing YA, I think, because everyone else was at the time. HP was making millions and Twilight had just come on the scene - to me it seemed the obvious genre to write in. Then too I had a teenage daughter and it was like having a perfect beta reader in situ. I wrote several YA books and the first I really finished and loved was Immune. I subbed it to various agents and publishers and though the feedback was good it wasn't published. At the time I was devastated but I know now that I wasn’t ready. The writing wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t savvy enough about the business. I spent two years chasing agents, I’d never do that again.

So I carried on writing YAs but something was clicking. It got to the point where I’d start something and get bored or I’d write thousands of words then delete them the next night because I wasn’t feeling them. I couldn’t work out what was wrong and it was my fiancée who cleared things up for me. All my YA books were romance, that was the central theme, I knew that but I’d never classified them as romance. To me they were sci-fi or horror or something else and the romance was simply part of the plot, my chap disagreed! He insisted I was a romance writer and urged me to try and write a ‘grown up’ romance. I was intrigued by the idea. I’d thought about it certainly, but never had the nerve to follow it through. I think part of me was worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a romance writer but that was a stupid thought. I love reading romance books, some of my favourite authors write romance… so what was holding me back?

Nothing, so I plunged in and started writing… I’ve yet to stop.

3. Tell us a bit about the Fae?

I’d been thinking about a paranormal romance involving fairies for a while. I wanted to create a world ‘The Faedom’ where fairies live separate to humans. But I wanted those fairies to want to be part of the human world and to do whatever it took to achieve that. So, I created a world where Fae society is very much like ours - structured and hierarchal - and the only way for a Fae to interact with humans is to get one of the approved jobs – either as a holiday fairy or a guardian fairy. The thinking behind it is that once a fairy has one of these jobs they can interact with the human world by granting wishes. Just one wish for each fairy, once a year.

In The Christmas Fae Isadora has just been promoted and it’s now her job to grant one wish to make one human’s Christmas perfect. The wish will not be what she expects. The book is rated heat level ‘3’ so I need say no more than that!

I’ve really enjoyed writing this and I’m now editing the next book The Valentine’s Fae.

4. What does your job as an editor involve?

I’m both a content and copy editor which means I work on everything once the contract has been signed. At the moment I don’t play any part in the acquisitions process. I mean sure, if someone sent me something I could pass it on to my publisher and say, this is one for us, but I’m not a reader. My job is back office only. I get the manuscripts after the contract has gone out so there’s no turning back. Once I have that book I HAVE to make it saleable. Whatever it takes, removing chapters, adding them, deleting characters – it’s all wide open.

Generally speaking how it works is that my publisher (Evernight) sends me a manuscript through. I do a first read and give initial thoughts, concerns etc. This might be something as simple as a few tweaks to a major re-write. The MS goes back to the author who then addresses these issues. The turnaround for this is about a fortnight. The MS comes back and I'll check it to make sure the author has addressed the issues, if so I'll do a complete proof read of the whole MS, I'll re-write parts if need be, correct grammar and punctuation and make sure the flow is right. I both copy and content edit – so it’s the whole nine yards. If the issues haven't been addressed then it goes back to the author again. This is rare, usually we only do two edit rounds. Total turnaround is about 6 weeks, this is all done by email.

One thing I won’t do is compromise the author’s voice. This is her book, not mine, my job is to polish it up not re-mould it. Preserving the author’s voice is crucial, all ego has to be swept away. I’m lucky because I come at it from a writer’s perspective and so I know how much has gone into it. I know the author will have spent hours reading each bit and tweaking each line. I respect that totally and only make changes where they’re necessary. The impulse to re-write it the way I would has to be crushed, it’s not my book.

5. What do you see as the future for e-publishing?

E-publishing is the future, it’s as simple as that. I see us reaching a point where only the very high selling books come out in print. Ebooks first, then if sales targets are met, a print run. This makes perfect sense to me, both from a financial and environmental perspective, and in my genre we’re well ahead of the game.

It’s funny because a year ago I always said I would never get an e-reader. I love the smell and feel of books and the idea of having them in e-format was abhorrent to me. Now however, if there’s not a Kindle wrapped under the tree for me come this Christmas my chap’s going to be in trouble.

6. What piece of advice would you offer the aspiring writer?

Ooo someone else just asked me this and I’ll tell you exactly what I told them, I’m not the right person to ask this question! These days when someone tells me they’re thinking about writing my usual response is, please don’t. The trouble is I don’t think most people have any idea the amount of work that’s involved, I know I didn’t. When I got involved in writing (about five years ago now) I assumed I’d write an amazing book, get published, make a load of dosh and duh dah! It sooo doesn’t work like that.

Try instead long hours hunched over the computer, after a manic day at work, trying to cudgel the old brain into producing 2000 words. Or having to delete yesterdays 2000 because they’re crap. Try coming home to rejection envelopes piled high on the mat and feeling your heart drop. Countless hours spent trying to build yourself a platform. I wouldn’t even want to calculate the hours it takes to increase the blog by one follower or the Facebook group etc. It’s very, very difficult, like a full time job only with no pay.

Any newbie writer needs to realize that it is HARD work with very little reward for a long while. I’m only just seeing the fruits of my labors – five years after I begun. And the cash I’ve made so far? Oh, I don’t even want to think about it.

Still, I don’t want to be all gloom and doom, there are some positives. Like when something gets accepted and you see it out there in the real world. That is an amazing feeling. Or when the words work properly and you read it back and your heart beats a little faster. Being a writer, in my opinion, is just about the best darn job there is, but make no mistake, if you’re going to do it properly you have to treat it like a job.

Once you’ve made the decision that writing is for you then my best advice is to follow your own instincts, and if that means breaking the rules, break them. I don’t think I ever did what I was told, don’t phone agents, don’t email publishers direct, no multiple POVs, no telling. Bugger that, I write what feels right and if someone wants to read it after the fact then that’s brill but if they don’t then that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I shudder at the idea of this formula type writing that we get rammed down our throats or the strict way we’re told we must approach agents and publishers. They’re human beings for crikes sake, yes they’re busy, but you know what, so am I. I’ve never once had an agent or a publisher complain about the way I interact with them. Besides publishing is changing drastically, it will be the canny, break-the-rules type writers that will flourish.

Thank you Emma for answering my questions.

You can find out more about Emma at her website and her blog.


  1. Interesting interview, thanks for sharing!

    It is an interesting point about finding your genre. Instinctively you would suppose that your writing genre is the one to which you are drawn as a reader - from what Emma said, I guess that turned out to be true!
    I wonder what others' experiences are

  2. Looks awesome, Emma! I can't wait to read it! Great interview - thanks to you and Kate for doing this!

  3. Great interview, Kate and Emma!


  4. @ Dominic, I think that's true :).

    @Carol - thanks sweetie x

    @Jill - thank you!

    And a big thanks to Kate for having me on your blog.

  5. Thanks for this interesting interview, especially the part for aspiring writers! Treating it like a job is essential, I completely agree! :)


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